Desperation

October 31

 

Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self fulfilling prophecy. (Brian Tracy)

     There are times when circumstances evolve in our lives that only a miracle can resolve. Some things we encounter; whether physical, financial, spiritual, or emotional in nature will never change without supernatural intervention.

     Often in the routine of our daily lives; it is not necessary that we receive anything more than what we have at the moment. But then something happens; we get the phone call, the diagnosis is dire, bad news comes and our world is turned up side down. At that moment we can surrender and accept defeat or we can reach outside of ourselves for something bigger than the problem. Even a dog in desperation will leap over a wall (Chinese Proverb). Things will not be easy but one thing is sure; we have to do something; we have to do the best we know how at the moment—if it does not turn out right, we can modify as we go along (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

     Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all (Dale Carnegie). When the doctor says, “There’s nothing more that I can do.” Desperation often motivates us to reach outside of ourselves to God, the One who takes pleasure in helping people.

     All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim; they have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible (Orison S. Marden). There is a God who is real that can wash away the wrongdoing from our lives; a healer that can heal every disease of our bodies; a Christ that can deliver us from every trouble seeking to destroy our being and take away our peace of mind and soul—the real Jesus (Oral Roberts).

     Desperation is the raw material of drastic change; the key ingredient for the making of a miracle. Weakness, sickness brokenness, tiredness, loneliness, failure and pain need not defeat you. Nothing is impossible with God (The Angel Gabriel). Don’t dwell on what went wrong; focus on what to do next … spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer (Denis Waitley). When faith and the mercy of God are mixed into a person’s will to live; anything is possible.

Miracles Happen

October 30

 

It is difficulties that give birth to miracles. (Dr. Sharpe)

     We would have much more success in managing our troubles if we focused more on the cure rather than the cause of them. While in Jerusalem Jesus and His followers saw a blind man. The disciples asked Him (John 9:2), “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his sins or those of his parents?” Jesus responded to their question, “Sin is not the issue of this circumstance. This blind man’s need exists as an opportunity for God to demonstrate His works of power.” Jesus did not debate the cause of the calamity; He focused on the cure.

     He then spit on the ground, made a clay paste, rubbed it on the eyes of the man and said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” The blind man obeyed Christ and was healed. Every adversity, like the darkness is an opportunity for God to use in demonstrating His love for us. For the Lord God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who do what is right (Psalm). Miracles happen to those who believe in them (Bernard Berenson). Jesus declared, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

     William Jennings Bryan made this observation, “One may drop a brown seed in the black soil and up comes a green plant. You let it grow and by and by you pull up its root and find it red. You cut the root and it has a white heart. Can anyone tell how this comes about—how brown cast into black results in green and then red and white? Yet you eat your radish without troubling your mind over miracles. Men are not distressed by miracles in the dining room—they reserve them all for religion!" Supernatural manifestations of the God’s greatness surround us. You can believe. The Age of Miracles is forever here (Thomas Carlyle). Jesus said, “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to a mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart.” Develop a daily dependence on the Lord and He will provide for you from His storehouse of abundant supply.

Only Once

October 29

 

Every person must do two things alone; his or her own believing and dying. (Martin Luther)

     In his day Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) was a spiritual giant known as the Apostle of Faith. He lived an extraordinary life; his healing and evangelistic ministry touched multitudes of people around the world.

     Smith was not only a dynamic man of faith; he was also a great lover of nature and the outdoors. While walking in the country he reveled in the violets, the primroses, the bluebells and the heather of his native land of England. On one of those rare occasions between campaigns Wigglesworth spent the day hiking. He ascended a long grade and emerged into a wonderful stretch of high ground. As far as the eye could see, the countryside was carpeted with a gorgeous covering of purple heather; just at its fullest and best. The sun shone brilliantly, the birds soared and sang, all nature basked in the mood of the moment. While beholding this glorious sight Smith exclaimed out loud, “This is health; this is life!” An elderly man captivated by this lover of nature, stopped to listen. Smith noticed the elderly gentleman and said, “What a wonderful place this must be to live in. Surely, people never die here!” The old man with a twinkle in his eye said, “Only once, Mister; only once!”

     Death is the destiny of every living being. This unwelcome fiend invades our space and greatly imposes upon us; a tyrant who steals our comfort and all semblance of ones security. Saint Francis of Assisi declared, “It is as natural for us to die as it is for us to be born.”

     One writer wisely stated, “No one should be afraid to die who has understood what it is to live.” Most of us from time to time think about death and ask the question, “Why do we have to die?” It is good to ponder our temporary existence on earth but there is a better and more relevant question we need to ask, “What should we do since we daily live in the shadow of our demise?” The answer is simple, although it is not easy or trite—look to God. He is the answer for everything we face in life, including death. The human soul is immortal. Death is not the last sleep; it is the final awakening (Walter Scott). Will your immortal soul pass from this life and abide in God’s presence? Or will you awake into an existence eternally separated from the Lord? Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, O God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is knowing God. Death is just the opposite—not knowing God.

Two By Four

October 28

 

Everybody worships. Whether it is a hero, possessions, success, pleasure, a political cause, a carved idol or oneself, the way we live and behave makes evident the things we love and give ourselves to. (Graham Kendrick)

     Back when farmers used mules to pull plows a certain Midwestern planter needed a new mule and bought one from a friend. The fellow who sold the animal warned him that this particular mule would perform his duties on the farm very well but would only do so if he was treated with constant love, affection, and appreciation. For the first week, the new owner lavished praises on the old mule and fed him as if he were royalty. But the mule wouldn’t budge. The new owner was disgusted and asked the previous owner to come to his house. The former owner said, “Did you feed and praise him like I told you to”. The answer was yes, of course. Then the fellow grabbed a two–by–four and whacked the mule over the head. The farmer screamed, “I thought you said he would respond to affection”. The former owner shot back, “Well, he does, but you have to get his attention first.”

     How can we believe in God and yet give so little of ourselves in seeking to know Him? Far too often our relationship with the Lord is placed on the back burner of our priority list; at least until we face a personal tragedy or dilemma. Some of us will never take our first spiritual step until we are hit over the head with a problem. The writer of the Psalms said, “I used to wander off until You disciplined me; but now I closely follow Your word. My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”

     Cornelius was a devout Italian soldier who feared God, gave generously and prayed always (Acts 10:1-48). One day as he was worshipping the Lord an angel appeared to him in a vision, instructing him to contact the Apostle Peter. Peter came to Cornelius’ house and spoke to several people. As Peter preached the Holy Spirit fell on all those who gathered to hear God’s word … and they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Cornelius made a practice of seeking the Lord; he didn’t wait until trouble invaded his life. We should follow his example.

     Bryon Spradlin wrote, “Worship is the intentional attitude and action of focusing on God. It is the life-discipline we ought to repeatedly exercise and develop.” Always remember—religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man or woman has found God, and been found by God, he or she begins at no beginning and works to no end (H.G. Wells).

Tempted And Tried

October 27

 

The basic difference between physical and spiritual power is that men use physical power but spiritual power uses men. (Justin W. Nixon)

     Power is not alluring to pure minds (Thomas Jefferson). Jesus never used His power for His own personal benefit. He could do anything but he refused to do even one thing that did not honor God. He had the unlimited resources of God at His disposal, and yet He did not use even a small portion on Himself. How did he endure such a difficult challenge? Carl Jung gives us the answer, “Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, love is lacking.” Jesus perfected the practice of loving God. Love was His power and God’s Word was His wisdom.

     Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. After he had fasted for forty days, Satan appeared to Christ and tried to provoke Him (Matthew 4:3 NLT), “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus could have transformed rocks into Coca Cola and the dust into bread. Anyone possessing the ability to walk on water can do anything. Christ simply responded to Satan with these simple words from Deuteronomy, “No! “People need more than bread for life; they must feed on every word of God.”

     Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power (Abraham Lincoln). Samson abused the power of God and lost it. Judges 16:20 says, “… the Lord … departed from him.” He took God for granted, making self-gratification his primary objective and Samson failed miserably! Jesus refused to fall into that trap. There are two ways people mishandle God’s power: some abuse God’s gifts and others neglect them. The end result of both blunders is ruined lives. Let the blessings of God follow you but don’t you follow after them! Invest everything the Heavenly Father gives us into love. Build His church by helping others. Lay down your life for the Lord like He laid down His life for you.

Prime The Pump

October 26

 

God loves a person who gives joyfully, and if you give joyfully you always give more. A joyful heart is the result of a heart burning with love. (Mother Teresa)

     Even though Grandpa Wilfong was not a carpenter, he built several buildings on his farm in Orleans, Indiana. He fabricated the old barn, three tractor sheds and the woodshed. He built the chicken house, the smokehouse, the outhouse and our house. Right in the middle of everything; he built the pump house. From time to time our well lost its prime and the water stopped flowing. Dad was always there to fix it. One day when the water quit running dad said to me, “Come on boy, you need to learn how to prime the pump.” Dad explained the procedure to me, and my nine-year old mind soaked in the details. “The first thing you do is flip off the power,” dad said as he removed the insulated lid covering the pump. He grabbed a wrench and showed me how to take the bolt out of the impeller housing. Then he reached for a metal funnel hanging beside the wrench and showed me how to pour water into the pump. “Dad, why are you putting water in the pump?” I asked. “If you don’t put any water in it,” Dad said, “you ain’t going to get any water out of it.” After showing me all the steps I was able to prime the pump all by myself.

     Spiritual life is like priming a pump or planting a garden, you only get out of it that which you put in it. My grandfather prepared the soil, planted the seeds in his field and harvested a crop. My dad primed the pump and he was able to get water out of it. The same is true when it comes to spiritual development. As we give our lives to the Lord on a day by day basis, He gives His life to us.

     We nurture relationship with the Lord by giving to Him. Talk to the Lord, spend time with Him and learn to be friends with God. The more time you spend with God, the more He will show up and reveal Himself to you. He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (Paul). If you put nothing into your relationship with God you will get nothing out of it. God gave His best for us and expects us to give our best to Him. Dotti Ackey said, “In the end, you are not going to be remembered for your loyalty to the company or for how much money you earned—you are going to be remembered for the contributions you made to life.”

Full Of It

October 25

 

Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues. (John Stott)

     There is an expression people use when they feel someone is not being truthful or honest with them. They say, “That person is full of it.” They mean he or she is full of empty promises, hot air and lies. The Bible describes God as being full of it, but full of what? The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and great in mercy (David). The fullness of God’s love and grace was demonstrated on the cross through Christ. It oozed from his body as he hung there bleeding for humanity.

     Two thousand years ago Jesus was carried to the top of a hill; tortured and crucified with two thieves. A mob stood below His cross, making a public spectacle of Him. The religious rulers derided Jesus, “He saved others, let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” The soldiers mocked him, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” Pilate reviled the Nazarene by placing a sign on the cross, “This is the King of the Jews.” The crowd, intoxicated with the influence of darkness, scorned God. One of the thieves who died with Him ridiculed Jesus, wasting his last chance for hope. The other felon defended Him and rebuked the doubting criminal. Then he said to Jesus, “Do you not fear God seeing you are under the same condemnation as we are … we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds….” This offender repented, “Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom.”

     God’s grace is that which stands in the place of our imperfection. We are all spiritual offenders, wrongdoers and criminals. We have gone our own way, turning our backs on God. When you make a mistake, don’t look back at it long … take the reason of the thing into your mind, and look forward … mistakes are lessons of wisdom … the past cannot be changed … the future is yet in your power (Hugh White). Jesus said to the repentant transgressor, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” John Maxwell said, “The only way to truly get beyond past failure is to embrace grace. When we do, we are liberated to go on. We are liberated to try and fail again. Grace is the answer to human weakness. With grace—we not only gain mercy, but strength to improve the next time.” Grace is your hope and future. One creative person defined G-R-A-C-E with an acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

Something To Believe In

October 24

 

In a quiet revolution in thought and argument that hardly anyone could have foreseen only a few decades ago, God is making a comeback. (Time Magazine)

     Raymond James Stadium filled quickly for the “Monday Night” football game in Tampa, Florida. The atmosphere was charged with electricity as multitudes lined the streets, bands played, fans cooked on tailgates, the Budweiser Blimp flew overhead, beer flowed, and vendors sold the latest in football paraphernalia. Boomer and Al called the game while Hank Williams Junior and all his rowdy friends showed up on the big screen, this multimillion dollar event offered thrills from beginning to end.

     Tampa Bay’s strong defense was set to challenge the explosive offense of the Minnesota Vikings. Many commentators matched the teams evenly but Minnesota seemed to have the edge. The largest crowd in Raymond James Stadium history was present with 65,741 in attendance and they were not disappointed because the Bucs defeated the Vikings 24 to 17.

     Why would such a multitude of people show up in an array of attire fit for a costume party? The simple answer is faith. People are seeking and looking for something in which to believe. Humanity has a craving for fulfillment and purpose. This longing dates back to the dawning of civilization and can be seen in the ruins of mammoth coliseums all over the world. These structures were built thousands of years ago and are memorials to the passion that propelled ancient humanity. Thrills mean everything to those who lack contentment, those who have not connected with the purpose of their existence.

     God created humanity with a need for Him and it is impossible to please or satisfy our spiritual longing with anything else. When people began to live apart from relationship with the Lord their need for spiritual fulfillment drove them, and they tried to fill the spiritual void with various things. They were unsuccessful and their attempts led to wrongdoing. Our attempt of trying to fill our need for God with something other than His love is sin. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews). Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn Out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The Blame Game

October 23

 

When you cease to exist, who then will you blame. (Bob Dylan)

     How many of you remember this night? The campus of the University of Texas in Austin was charged with excitement; it was an electric moment because history was in the making. For the first time in America a black man, Senator Barack Obama and a woman, Senator Hillary Clinton were running for the office of President of the United States of America. And tonight they were debating on national television. Most political annalists were predicting that the one who will be perceived as the winner of the debate will also be the one who will win the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

     In the debates both candidates offered their plans and gave solutions for the problems in the country. Both Senators pointed a finger at George W. Bush’s administration for orchestrating failed policies that resulted in a host of quandaries the American people are facing today: sluggish economy, war in Iraq, failed immigration policy, insufficient health care coverage for Americans, lack of respect in foreign affairs…. But in all honesty it is not fair to cast blame for our problems on President Bush, or the Clinton Reign, or Carter, or Nixon or anyone else. But someone is to blame and that person or person’s party needs to take responsibility for the mess our country is in today! If it is not the Democrats, it must be the Republicans.

     The Apostle Paul declared, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings, presidents, leaders, politicians and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior ….” That which Paul instructed us to do first is often what we do last or not at all—pray. Prayer must be a priority in these most vulnerable times in which we live. It’s our hope. Prayer produces peace: peace with God; peace in our hearts, peace in our nation, peace in our world. R. A. Torrey said, “How little time the average Christian spends in prayer! We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little … the power of God is lacking in our lives and in our work. We have not because we ask not.”

     Bush is not to blame for Iraq, Afghanistan, or the violence prevalent in our American culture; we are; all who failed to assume our proper place of prayer and intercession for the nation and its leadership. We have misplaced the importance of prayer and therefore our priorities are out of line with the values that keep our society from unraveling at the seams. Remember this, you and I are not afforded the pleasure of taking another person apart until our lives are completely together.

Mother Of Pessimism

October 22

 

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results. (James Allen)

     As water takes on the on the color of the soil over which it passes, so our character is colored and tinted by the thoughts we think. That is why Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Dear brothers and sisters … fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

     It is the nature of thought to find its way into action (Christian Nevell Bovee). Have you ever observed a negative person who sees nothing good in life or in people? That person formed the habit of allowing negative thoughts to dominate his or her life. Negativity is the mother of pessimism. And the offspring of pessimism is bitterness. You’ve heard the old expression, “You must learn to make the best of every situation.” Everyone experiences times of difficulty and endures some kind of tragedy in life, but the Bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Focus on your faith in Christ and look on the bright side of life. It is not necessary for you and I to live under a cloud of despair. John Milton said, “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.”

     Harry E. Fosdick wrote, “Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it. Bitterness sickens life; love heals it. Bitterness blinds life; love anoints it eyes.” You cannot defy or escape the law which says, “You will reap what you sow.” What comes out of us is determined by what goes in us. The seeds you sow in your mind will produce after their own kind—good seed creates good and bad seed creates bad. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do; and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is (Paul). Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit-and you and I are our own gardeners (James Allen).

Where Is My Son?

October 21

 

A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save. (C.S. Lewis)

     Pastor Karl flew to be with his two sisters because both of them lost a son within three days of one another. Michael in his fifties and Robert in his sixties died suddenly—both from massive heart attacks.

     Michael never, as far as anyone knew, made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. When he was ten years old his Uncle Karl shared the love of Christ with him and asked him if he would like to invite Jesus into his life. He responded with an emphatic—No! Michael, who became a banker and a good moral man, lived the rest of his life saying no to Jesus.

     The family, still numb from the pain of losing Michael, was totally devastated when Robert died. Even though Robert’s parents were grief stricken, they were able to console themselves, knowing that Pastor Karl led young Robert to the Lord and he had received Jesus Christ as his Savior. Robert served the Lord and made Christ the center of his life.

     Michael’s father took the death of his son very hard and was perplexed concerning his eternal destiny. One evening, when the family was all together, Michael’s father looked Karl right in the eyes and asked, “Karl, where is my son?” From all appearances it looked as though Michael died without having received Christ as His Savior. Pastor could have said I don’t know, being perfectly honest with his distraught and bewildered brother-in-law, but that answer seemed very cold and insensitive. His mind raced for the right words that might comfort his family during this time of grief in their lives. After a brief silence in the room Pastor said, “Michael is in the mercy of God.”

     Don’t live your life saying no to Jesus. Not knowing the eternal fate of someone you love dearly is a tormenting anguish that no one should have to bear. Receive the gift of eternal life from the Lord and you will spare your loved ones much pain and sorrow. Don’t allow this epitaph be written on the hearts of those who cherish your memory, “Where is the one I love?” Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” There is no more urgent and critical question in life than that of your personal relationship with God and your eternal salvation (Billy Graham).

The Dark Side

October 20

 

Somebody has suggested that the word “evil” is the word “live” spelled backward. It is! Evil is the will to live put into reverse; it is life turning against itself. (E. Stanley Jones)

     Chaucer tells a tale of three companions who went to find Death and inquired of a wise man, “Where is Death?” He replied, “If you follow the path through the woods you will come upon him. While on their journey they soon came to a pile of glittering gold. They agreed that two of them should keep watch over the treasure while the third member of the group went to find a way to transport it. When the one was gone, the other two reasoned, “If we were to take his part, there would be more for us.” While the third partner was in town, a wicked idea also came into his heart, “If I were to take their share, I should have it all.” So he devised a plan. He purchased food and drink and placed poison in each portion. He then returned to the gold to claim his prize. When he arrived, his two friends killed him instantly. Then the two who had been without food for days, pounced on the groceries, devouring them. They were delighted at first, that is, until the poison began to invade their system. They found death.

     As a teenager I experimented with drugs hoping to make life better. Late one night after returning from a party where chemicals and alcohol flowed freely, I sat at home in a somber daze. Suddenly, a man appeared in one of my shirts, hanging on the wall. He hung there just long enough for me to get a glance of him and disappeared. Moments later several little dwarfs came out of a chair. They were cute little creatures but there was something foreboding about them. I was scared. Strange thoughts began to race through my mind, “Run, get out of here! Jump through the window! Run through the glass door! Run!” These inner rumblings were powerful and my only alternative, if I continued to listen, was to obey. Hoping to quiet the voices that were echoing in my mind, I turned on the television, hid under my covers, tightly closed my eyes and eventually passed out. I was terrified. The next morning the sobering reality hit me; I had come face to face with the dark side of evil. Drugs were supposed to make things better but all they did was awaken the darkness inside my heart.

     Wrong can feel good for a time but don’t allow yourself to be deceived. Don’t listen to the voices that compel you to violate your conscience. All of history reveals that the nature of evil is self-destructive. Wrongdoing has a dark side that we often overlook until it bites us; death lingers in the shadows of the dark side of life. The more one practices disobedience the easier it is to do and the worse we become from it

Iron Will

October 19

 

The will of mankind is stronger than iron bars. (Anwar Ibrahim)

     The control we have over our body is extremely limited. The fleshly part of our being seems to have a mind of its own. If we tell our heart to stop beating, our stomach to stop craving and our nerves to stop feeling; they defy us. As age approaches we cannot command our hair to stay its natural color or our skin to remain smooth; it is impossible to make our eyes remain bright; they simply do not listen. The moment we become comfortable in the flesh; it withers as the grass and fades like a leaf.

     The human spirit is truly a mysterious and amazing creation; it abides in our bodies for a time then spreads it wings and soars off into eternity from where it came. We cannot pinpoint the day of its creation and neither do we know when it will depart, leaving its abode a cold lifeless form.

     The most profound thing in a person is his will (E. Stanley Jones). The only true part of our being that we actually possess; our will—it belongs to us. We decide what it does. God does not control it; principalities and powers of darkness do not control it—we do. Charles Dickens said, “There is nothing good or evil except in the will.” For all of eternity it belongs to us.

     We act as we will. The atrocities happening today are a result of humanity exercising their free will rights. They are not in tune with the nature of God. Scores and scores, multiplied millions of persons are in love with themselves and money; they are proud, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, angry and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of good. Our only hope is surrender; surrendering our greatest possession; that culprit which stirs trouble—the will. Give it to God.

     The body and the spirit belong to God but we determine their fate. In Ezekiel 18:4-9 God declares, “All souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son are Mine; the soul who sins will die. But if a man or woman is just and does what is lawful and right … and keep My judgments faithfully—he or she is just and shall live!” The human will is God’s only when we surrender and give it to Him. We can do what we ought to do; and when we say we cannot, it is because we will not (Johann Gottlieb Fichte). For where there is a will there is a way.

Two Bites

October 18

 

We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes. (John F. Kennedy)

     Jim became sick right before he, Connie and Little Vinny, who was six years old at the time, made their big move from Michigan to Florida. The Portells looked forward to retirement, but not long after settling into their new home something dreadful happened. The nightmare began with a phone call, “Mommy, you need to come home dad is sick. Connie walked in the door, took one look at Jim and realized that something was wrong. “I need to go to the bathroom,” he said, “but I don’t know where it’s at.” He had a strange look on his face and his eyes seemed to be bulging out of their sockets. “Go get in the car, we’re going to the emergency room.” Jim replied, “I don’t know where it is.”

     Test after test failed to identify the problem. Finally, the first diagnosis came: spinal meningitis that had penetrated the brain. Jim was immediately quarantined and given antibiotics. More results came. Jim had encephalitis which he had contacted through two mosquito bites: one in Michigan carrying California encephalitis and one in Florida carrying St. Louis encephalitis.

     Hours turned into days and weeks. Connie was eventually summoned to a conference after Jim slipped into a coma. The doctors informed her that his chances of regaining consciousness were slim, and if he did survive; he would exist in a perpetual vegetative state. After the briefing Connie drove home feeling totally alone in the world. She believed in God but didn’t own a Bible or know what was in it. She did the only thing she knew to do; she recited the Lord’s Prayer and asked God to save Jim’s life. Connie cried day after day, so much that she began experiencing chest pains. Finally, when she couldn’t cry anymore, Connie turned it all over to God, asking that His will be done. She felt the Holy Spirit’s presence and drifted off into a peaceful sleep. She woke up the next morning with a new resolve, remembering her wedding vows and the golden rule: love for better or worse in sickness and health—and do to others what you want others to do to you.

     In the days that followed well meaning people advised her to place Jim in a home, get a divorce and save herself the agony. She could never do that.

     Jim did wake up from the coma trapped inside a paralyzed body. This former Vietnam veteran, baseball player and athlete was now a prisoner in a grotesque body curled up into a fetal position. He was blind and unable to walk or talk; but he could pray. Jim called on God and asked for help. He felt God’s presence and he began to improve little by little. In the process of time he learned to talk again, tie his shoes, write, think, add and subtract. He went to physical therapy and school daily. He prayed, worked hard and recovered. Years have passed and the only ill effects of this ordeal are the painful memories. But they gained, through that horrific crisis, an abiding faith in God. The doctors are still amazed and attribute Jim’s recovery to a miracle. Jim and Connie now share with others what they learned through this trial—there is always hope. So no matter what you are facing turn to Christ and remember His words, “Nothing is impossible for those who believe.”

Divine Directives

October 17

 

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results. (James Allen)

     Most people look at themselves and see things they would like to change. Many say over and over, “One day I’m going to do something about that.” But change rarely happens unless we are motivated for it. Some need negative incentives to get them going: an alarming medical report, family problems, some loss or unhappiness. Others are moved by positive encouragement such as the feelings of exhilaration they receive from accomplishing a worthwhile goal.

     This world is controlled by divine directives, for instance the law of gravity—it never fails; if something goes up it will come down. That is why we become fearful when standing on the edge of a cliff; we believe the decree of gravity. Farmers honor the laws of agriculture when planting and harvesting. They prepare their fields, plant seeds and gather harvest; all in accordance with law. Once we think we know the truth about something, we seal it in our subconscious as a belief and start acting like it. We don’t even know we’re doing it. That’s because our subconscious causes us to behave like the person we believe ourselves to be (Louis E. Tice). We behave according to our beliefs; and become what we believe. Jesus said to His followers (Matthew 17:20 NLT), “If you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could command a mountain to move … and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Mustard seed is very small, indicating that a little faith produces great results. It is possible to alter behavior and overcome the things hindering us from becoming what we desire to be. To learn to believe is of primary importance; it is the basic factor of succeeding in any undertaking (Norman Vincent Peale).

     When we believe and live in harmony with God’s Word both our lives will be good—the one we are now living on earth and the one we will live in eternity. Good seed produces good crops and every promise of God is a seed. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think (Paul). If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad (Denis Waitley).

The Higher Purpose

October 16

 

Prayer can do anything God can do; for the arm of God responds to the touch of prayer. All the infinite resources of God are at the command of prayer. (E.M. Bounds)

     Purge yourself from any and all tendencies towards reducing your prayer time to a list of requests for your wants and necessities. God knows about your needs so focus on the higher purpose for spending time with the Lord. Make friendship with God, which is far better and greater than the sum total of His riches, the aim of your life.

     Why should we ask the Lord for things when God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present? Matthew, a disciple of Christ declared, “Your Father knows what you have need of before you ask.” Christ asks us to pray for the things he already knows we need so that we will learn to depend on Him (Oswald Chambers). He doesn’t need for us to pray so He can get to know us, God knows our heart; He needs us to pray so we can get to know Him. God is not interested in a one-sided relationship.

     The closer we get to the Lord the less likely we are of being self-centered. Paul asked a question in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” The Temple of God was set apart exclusively for Him and nothing else; defiling it with anything other than sincere worship resulted in certain judgment. The best way to guard your heart, and keep your fleshly temple clean, is to make prayer a priority in your life. The more that Christ becomes the center of your attention, the less concern you will have for the cares of this world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God (E.M. Bounds). Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. A person without prayer is like a tree without roots (Pope Pius XII).

Above The Roar

October 15

 

Although we may be away from the presence of people, how hard it is to silence the voice of self. (Rees Howells)

     We live in a noisy world. Rarely, do we stop and embrace a quiet moment away from our cell phones, radios, televisions and electronics. Rarely are we quiet or at ease; we’ve grown accustomed to sound and find ourselves needing to watch and listen. Our obsession with chatter and clatter impacts our lives—especially our spiritual lives.

     You can live above the roar that is so much a part of 21st century life. Put on the brakes, get quiet, rest and turn off the electronics for a moment. Initially, you will discover this to be a difficult chore but make yourself do it. Be like the eagle that soars above the storm. One of my favorite Scriptures is Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience His peace, which exceeds anything that you and I can understand. His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus.” Reflect on God’s greatness and listen inside to the voice of your spirit. Tranquility is a by-product of prayer.

     Those who love God’s instructions have great peace and do not stumble (Psalms). Prayer does not work alone; it is an effective tool only when governed by the directives in God’s Word. Stanley Jones declared, “Chaos is God saying no to what you are doing in pride and ignorance. Harmony is God saying yes!” If your mind is quiet and you are at ease within; it’s because you have learned to pray and meditate on God’s promises. Peace comes when there is no cloud between you and God. Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God’s removal of that which obscures His face and breaks my union with Him. The happy sequence culminating in fellowship with God is penitence, pardon and peace—the first we offer, the second we accept and the third we inherit (Charles Brent). God will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him (Isaiah).

Thicker Than Blood

October 14

 

Learn to accept differences of others and disagree without becoming divisive. Author Unknown)

     Contention among people has been consistent in every generation, dating back to the beginning. It existed among the followers of Jesus and still remains in the church today. The Bible declares, “Christ’s twelve apostles began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” Paul said, “Dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions among you. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”

     For years I conducted services at Hope Chapel, a church in the middle of a maximum security prison in Bowling Green, Florida. Whites, blacks, Hispanics and various people groups attended my services and often had trouble getting along with each other. They struggled with the practice of crucifying their race and color. Many times I confronted that issue saying, “Men, there is an old expression—blood is thicker than water and that is true. But there is something thicker than blood and it is Spirit—the power of the God’s Holy Spirit. We are one in Christ. Our flesh and blood bodies are temporary and corrupt. But one day we will receive a new body—a spiritual body that will never perish. Our spiritual family is forever, so learn to get along, remembering that Spirit is thicker than blood.”

     Watchman Nee said, “What is our hope as Christians? Is it not to be with the Lord for ever in glory …? if anyone claims to be in the Lord’s family and has no expectation of heaven or of glory, that person’s profession is empty. All who have this hope are one, for since we have the hope of being together for all eternity, how can we be divided in time? If we are going to share the same future, shall we not gladly share the same present?” We travel on numerous roads—that’s life. Each road provides a host of possibilities and choices; that’s privilege. But no matter which way we go—division among believers is wrong and the one thing that keeps the church from multiplying. Live well, live wisely, live humbly. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition or self-seeking, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil (James).

Read The Word

October 13

 

The Greek word translated “inspiration of God” literally means God breathed, describing the Bible's origin as transcending human inspiration. The Bible is not the product of elevated human consciousness or enlightened human intellect. It is not merely the private opinion of the writer, but is directly breathed from God Himself. (Source Unknown).

     Owen Carr writes, "Read God's Word to know what it says; study it to know what it means; memorize it; hide it in your heart; meditate on the Bible day and night; obey it because the highest expression of love is obedience. Right living is made possible when we know and understand what God meant." Your spiritual life and relationship with God is cultivated by studying His Word. Joshua, Moses’ successor, declared (Joshua 1:8), “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

     Many have dealt with and overcome their proclivity towards wrongdoing through the simple practice of making the Bible a daily part of their lives. David declared (Psalm 119:11), "God, Your Word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against You."

     Bible study is easy and difficult; rewarding and taxing; but the blessings we receive from it, far exceed our investment into mastering it. Tim LaHaye said, “You can understand the Bible and in fact you can become proficient in almost anything by investing just fifteen minutes a day in it—if you do it long enough. If you will read God's Word for fifteen minutes a day, and then take another fifteen minutes for study and learning; by the end of three years you will have accomplished the following: read the Bible completely through; read the key books several times; become acquainted with the major principles, promises and commands of the Bible; learned several key verses; developed a working knowledge of the Bible; developed a lifetime habit of study that will enrich your entire life." You do have fifteen minutes; yes, you can invest thirty minutes a day into developing your spiritual life—if you will do it.

     Read the Bible by books; these sixty-six books were written either to individuals or groups of people, for that reason they should be read in their entirety. This way you keep in mind the overall message of the book. Read it repeatedly; one of the best ways to get to know a book thoroughly is to read the entire book several times. Read it by need; your personal spiritual needs will often determine what you read. Every believer should read the Bible all the way through, beginning with the New Testament (Tim LaHaye).

Earth History

October 12

 

There is for me powerful evidence that … somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe.... The impression of design is overwhelming; the laws of physics ... seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design... (Paul Davies—British astrophysicist)

     The visible mark of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of creation (John Locke). And if scientists are right in claiming the earth is billions of years old and that dinosaurs existed on this planet a hundred million years ago; if it is true that living beings inhabited the earth ten million years ago; none of these ideas contradict Bible doctrine.

     The Scriptures do not outline the details regarding the creation of earth but it does give us definite insight into this planet’s intriguing history. The prophets spoke of a powerful angel by the name of Lucifer, Son of the Morning, who once ruled a kingdom on this planet. How long this mighty being ruled is a mystery; it could have been billions of years before the creation of humanity. Isaiah spoke of Lucifer’s rebellion and fall (Isaiah 14:12-13), “O Lucifer, son of the morning … you said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God … I will be like the Most High.” It is believed that this Morning Son ruled a host of diverse living creatures on earth. This would explain this planets age, the existence of dinosaurs and other mysteries dating back to prehistoric times. God judged Lucifer by destroying his kingdom with a devastating flood. That explains many of the mysteries regarding the chaotic wreckage the earth has undergone somewhere in its ancient past.

     Finis J. Dake writes, “God created the heavens and the earth and all the original creations in them sometime in the eternal past—in the beginning, whenever that was, and as there is no date for the beginning, it must refer to the dateless past. It could have been millions or billions of years ago, or it could have been a shorter period in the past. If geologists can prove the age of the earth to be as old as they claim, why disagree with them? If they are right they are right, and if they are wrong they are wrong. Either way it would not contradict the Bible, as it does not set any time element in connection with the original creation of the heaven and the earth. One thing is certain, according to Scripture, the earth is more than 6,000 years old, and there were inhabitants on this planet before the days of Adam. Details concerning our prehistoric past are not of critical importance but the fact that heaven is located in the center of the universe and earth lies at the center of God’s heart is what really matters.”

Live For Love

October 11

 

Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God Himself. (Madeleine L’Engle)

     Many feel they have no reason to live, wishing to lie down and cease existing. Those empty feelings of despair prevailing among people are not there by accident. We were not designed to live apart from Christ. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their peace in God.” The Lord loves us enough that He will not allow us to be content without Him. Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us. He is the only escape from the bitterness of a life lived without Him. We neither know God or ourselves apart from Jesus Christ (Baise Pascal).

     People often miss the point of faith. They attempt to behave well making resolution after resolution; determining to quit smoking or drinking or simply to be more generous. Men and women pledge to become better husbands or wives. Some feel compelled to work at being better family members or to even become involved in church. The goal is decency and self respect. But good works alone will never appease the hunger and thirst existing in the human heart for God. Purpose and fulfillment do not come by being well behaved. God seeks to give and receive love from people. His first priority in dying on the cross was to restore the love and fellowship humanity enjoyed with Him before the fall. The benefits we gain through forgiveness are secondary concerns with God; they are connected to the primary issue of Christ’s divine friendship and love for people.

     Eternal life is not our priority. You may ask, “Then what are we to live for?” Live for love. The wages of sin is death but the “gift of God” is eternal life. Eternal life is the gift of “God Himself” that we receive through His Holy Spirit (Oswald Chambers). Life is what we receive as a by-product of our walk with the Lord. Life without God is nothing other than hell itself. The Bible says in the Apocalypse, “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” In eternity the Lord God comes to each of us as a friend; in His compassion and strength He makes everything all right forevermore.

The Journey

October 10

 

To have a good friend is the purest of all God’s gifts, for it is a love that has no exchange of payment. (Frances Farmer)

     A young African gave his teacher a beautiful seashell for Christmas. "Where did you get this?" she asked. He told her that such shells are found only on a certain faraway beach. The teacher was deeply touched because she knew the boy had traveled many miles on foot to find the shell. "You shouldn't have walked so far just to find a gift for me," she said. The boy smiled and replied, "The long walk is part of the gift."

     What this boy did, traveling a great distance to obtain a special prize for someone he loved, parallels an important truth concerning the sacrifice of Christ. He journeyed to earth, offering the gift of eternal life to all who believe in Him. It's a treasure that carries with it forgiveness for all our wrongdoing. No doubt, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: God appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Holy Spirit … and taken up in glory (Paul). He whose kingdom is located high above the cosmos came here in the person of Christ. He was born in poverty; He experienced pain, endured temptation, healed the sick, forgave wrongdoing and loved even His enemies. He walked the long road of difficulty that ended on a hill where he was killed by crucifixion between two thieves. He rose from the dead, ascended back into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit back to the earth, continuing His mission of love for people.

     The greatest gifts are not to be found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends (Cindy Lew). Jesus said to His followers, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends.” Christ, the sole expression of God’s glory … the perfect image of His nature radiates God’s passion and love. Christ traveled a great distance in order to win the hearts of those He loves more than all else. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16).

     When I look at my life and feel as though I am the least of the least, unworthy of God’s love; I say to Him, “How could You love someone like Me? How could You have left the splendor of your dwelling to come and die for humanity and for me in particular?” You came so far and endured so much.” And in those moments He declares, "The journey is part of the gift."

Million Dollar Prayer

October 9

 

You shall find this to be God’s usual course: not to give His children the taste of His delights till they begin to perspire in seeking after them. (Richard Baxter)

     It is God’s will to answer every prayer we pray. Some take exception to this statement, believing that God responds only to a certain percentage of our requests. Richard Alleine declared, “The reason why we obtain no more in prayer is because we expect no more. God usually answers us according to our own hearts.” It is our responsibility to know the will of God and pray in agreement with it. We can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for (Apostle John).

     The secret to a successful prayer life is a personal relationship with Christ. Jesus made an incredible statement in regards to prayer in John 15:7 (NLT), “If you stay joined to Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask any request you like, and it will be granted!” The Lord has given us the Holy Spirit and He supernaturally assists us in effectively communicating with God. The Holy Spirit prays through us. Paul declared, “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For example we do not know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning and utterances with cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows the heart of everyone, knows what the Spirit is saying because the Holy Spirit prays for us in harmony with God’s will.”

     A question people ask, especially those who feel that God will only answer some of our prayers, “If God wants to answer every prayer I pray; does that mean I can ask Him for a million dollars right now and get it?” The correct answer is certainly. If you’re doing a million dollars worth of good for the Kingdom of God and others, the Lord will gladly see that you get your million. Some are doing a “five dollar work” but asking for a million-dollar budget to manage it. The Bible says, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This promise applies to our needs. Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of His willingness (Phillip Brooks).

Living Water

October 8

 

It is our duty to live in the beauty of the presence of God. (Frank Laubach)

     God has given the Holy Spirit to us for one purpose—to awaken and empower us to love. J. B. Phillips declared, “Every time we say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ we mean that we believe there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.” Love is the purpose for which we were created, and it is love that makes us attractive. Though I speak with in the tongues of men and angels … and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (Paul).

     Loving God is the first priority; following are the ministry gifts of the Spirit that empowers us for service. Good works are our second concern. The blood of Christ and the grace of God make us acceptable to the Lord (New Testament). Robert Longman said, “The Spirit doesn't exist to fulfill our desires. Christ is not like some parent spoiling His children with presents and total free rein of action. God is not here on human terms for human whims or even the grandest of human purposes …. God is a God of gifts … a God who wants us to dream and envision … a God whose purposes are the only ones worthy of pursuit … whose mysteries are the only ones worth probing.”

     The Holy Spirit is not just an illumination or inspiration that comes to our minds so we can see truth, He is a person who Himself knows the things of God and reveals them to us (Fuchsia Pickett). The person of the Holy Spirit is a great gift; the gift of God Himself; the gift of His very life. Jesus said, (John 7:38-39), “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” Love God and spiritual rivers of living water will flow out of your inner being and empower you with the power that empowered Christ. God works in our lives giving us the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him (Paul).

The Heinz Touch

October 7

 

What we think, what we know, or what we believe is of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do with what we think, what we know and what we believe. (John Ruskin)

     In the letter congratulating an old friend who had just gotten married I asked, “Can that new wife of yours cook?” "Can my wife cook!" he wrote back. "Let me tell you something. Just the other day we had boiled wieners, fried potatoes and—you're gonna love this—pork and beans. I told Maria we used to eat that same meal at your parent's house every time they would let us in. I call it the Pastor Dan Special."

     Even though my mother tried she was a horrible cook and had a knack for throwing things together—literally. One thing you could count on at our house—fried potatoes and pork and beans. On special occasions mom boiled hot dogs. Our one mealtime consolation was Heinz Ketchup, a flavor enhancer. At our table Heinz was the only flavor. It never dawned on me how terrible mom's cooking was until I began eating in the school cafeteria. School food was delicious in comparison to moms. I loved it.

     What we eat affects our health but what we do impacts our destiny. A life of obedience to God impacts our behavior and destiny like ketchup affected mom’s cuisine. Obedience makes life good and possible to swallow—the Heinz touch. Albert Barnes declared, “It does not require great learning to be a Christian and be convinced of the truth of the Bible. It requires only an honest heart and a willingness to obey God.” The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes (A Psalm). Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle—they that obey God, trust God; and they who trust God, obey Him (Charles Spurgeon).

     The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience (Chambers). The Word of the Lord addresses every issue affecting our behavior. Israel’s willingness to obey, even the simple health laws, prepared them for greater issues of compliance that affected their eternal destiny. After eating good food I realized that mom’s cooking lacked taste. Mom is gone but my appetite for Heinz remains. As you walk with the Lord and discover the purpose of your existence, your appetite for spiritual things will be affected. You will lose your desire for everything that is not God’s best for your life. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him (David).

Avenues Of Influence

October 6

 

The world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck. (William James)

     Why doesn’t God destroy all our inclinations towards wrongdoing the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior? That’s a good question. If we have dominion over demons through Christ, then why do we struggle with sin? Death to sin is often a slow process much like that which happens when a tree dies. After the source of its life is destroyed, the tree begins to die. But it can take a long time before a difference is noticed, but eventually the tree begins to wither. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our bodies the root system of our sin nature is destroyed, but we must break the old patterns of behavior and close the avenues of influence that the Prince of Darkness uses to manipulate our conduct.

     Do not take demons lightly because the enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you (C.S. Lewis). Principalities and powers entice us through our weaknesses and natural desires. They will access any avenue that is left open to them. Resist them; barricade the thoroughfares of your heart by walking with the Lord. Frank Laubach writes, “Fellowship with God is something one dare not cover for it smothers to death. It is like a tender infant or a delicate plant, for long nurturing is the price of having it, while it vanishes in a second of time, the moment…we try to seat some unworthy affection beside Him.”

     Demons no longer have free access to our will. Then why do many believers continue to wrestle with sin issues and time after time seek prayer for deliverance? In most instances it is because they have not learned to discipline (crucify) the flesh. Many are seeking a simple answer, an instant response, some effortless way to conquer their natural desires. But there is no easy way to overcome human weakness! You cannot cast out the desires of the flesh; you must crucify them. Crucifixion is an unpleasant experience; it’s very messy. So how do we deal with Satan and the desires of our flesh? Receive Christ as your Savior and continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong … don’t’ let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world (Paul). Continually, remind yourself of this truth; there is pleasure in sin for a season, but it only goes so far and it only lasts a moment.

True Value

October 5

 

There is no joy in possession without sharing. (Erasmo da Rotterdam).

     Do ordinary things with extraordinary love; little things like caring for the sick and the homeless, the lonely and unwanted, washing and cleaning for them. You must give what will cost you something. This, then, is giving not just what you can live without but what you can’t live without or don’t want to live without, something that you really like (Mother Teresa). The true value of what you give is determined by weighing your ability to give against the gift you gave.

     Give what you have to someone; it may be better than you dare to think (Longfellow). We are encouraged in God’s Word to give our very best. The words that I heard my first pastor say over and over are still echoing in my mind, “It is wrong to offer the Lord less than your best.” The prophet Malachi declared (1:13-14), “You say it’s too hard to serve Me, the Lord your God, and you turn up your noses at my commands …. Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these? Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king and my name is feared among the nations!” God does not accept blemished sacrifices. Greed is wrong!

     We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give (Douglas Lawson). God’s nature of love causes Him to always do His best; He is not a tyrant deity. He is loving and generous to all. The Lord God is our light and protection; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who do what is right (Psalms 84:11). When you withhold your best from God, selfishly taking Him for granted, you limit His ability to give to you. Life gives back to you that which you put into it. The true measure of love is found by comparing the quantity of one’s sacrifice against his or her capacity for giving. You have given nothing if you do not give the best you have to offer. No one is a fool who gives what he or she cannot keep to gain what he or she cannot lose (Jim Elliot).

Shadow Of Death

October 4

 

We have a lifetime to prepare for eternity but the problem is that no one knows how long that lifetime may last. (Pastor Dan).

     Ed, a young man in his thirties, was having problems; his marriage was going down the drain. In an effort to cope with the pressure he began drinking, and things went from bad to worse. One Sunday he showed up at church with his oldest son and came forward asking for prayer. The following week we talked and I tried to encourage him, but it was all to no avail. Then I got the call; Ed didn’t show up for work and was found dead in his apartment.

     Many live as though tomorrow is certain but in reality we have no guarantee of another breath. Each moment we are living under the shadow of death. Have you ever gazed into the horizon and wondered what lies beyond our tenure on this planet? Many propose answers. Some say the mystery of eternity lies deep inside the inner being, and to find ourselves we must diligently look within. But after two decades of searching, looking inside and out, of traveling, wandering, roaming, going around bends, moving up and down hills, valleys, twists and turns; the road stretched on and on over rivers, and finally for me and then for Ed; it all ended where it began—at the bridge to nowhere.

     Ed spoke volumes in the few years he lived, believing that one’s hope lies beyond self. He acted on the truth he realized and came to church seeking divine help. Jean-Paul Sartre said, “I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.” The Bible declares that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth—and you and me. The Holy Scriptures have proven themselves to be reliable; prophecies written over two and even three thousand years ago are happening today just as God’s prophets proclaimed. If there is but one chance in ten billion that what the Bible says is true; a man or woman would be a fool not to believe it (Wayne Friedt).

     The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity (Seneca). One thing is certain; you will die. And then what? Life has no meaning apart from eternity and eternity has no purpose apart from God. And what is our purpose? Jesus summed it up in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” To know God and Christ personally is the purpose for which we were created and exist.

Whole Burnt Offering

October 3

 

Tell God you are ready to be poured out as an offering, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be. (Oswald Chambers).

     When God gave Moses the law regarding sacrifice and offerings; He instructed him saying (Leviticus 6:9), “The whole burnt offering must be left on the bronze altar until the next morning, and the altar fire must be kept burning all night.” The giving of whole burnt offerings was the means through which God granted grace to the offenders of His law. Animal sacrifices were given in the light of day, revealing the important role of public confession in the clemency process. After the priest prepared the offering for slaughter, the individual bringing the sacrifice laid one hand on its head, and with the other he sliced its throat. Responsibility for wrongdoing was assumed by placing a hand on the head of the sacrifice.

     The offering was then placed on the brazen altar, remaining there for the day and throughout the night. It was consumed until nothing was left but ashes. The sacrifice, a representation of the penalty one deserved for wrongdoing, was consumed in the fire of God’s justice. The darkness of the night depicted the effects of sin. According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews). Blood satisfied God’s sense of justice and those sorry for their crimes were restored to fellowship with Him. As morning dawned the priests removed the ashes of the burnt offering. Morning represented a new beginning. The redemption process was complete when the ashes were carried outside of camp. Animal sacrifices are now unnecessary because Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for the wrongdoing of humanity.

     Martin Luther, the great reformer, had a dream in which he stood on the Day of Judgment before God—and Satan was there to accuse him. The devil opened his books full of accusations, pointing to transgression after transgression of which Luther was guilty. Luther's heart sunk in despair. Then he remembered the cross of Christ and turning to Satan he said, "Devil, there is one entry which you have omitted." "What is that?" Luther’s reply, "It is this—the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God cleanses us from all sins." Jesus gave His holy manhood as a love-gift to God that He might use it as an atonement for the world (Oswald Chambers).

Hands On Head

October 2

 

If Christ, by dying, has made full satisfaction, then God can consistently pardon the greatest of sinners that believe. (John Flavel)

     The Old Testament laws pertaining to animal sacrifice reveal many aspects of the redemption benefits Christ purchased for humanity on the cross. Under the Old Covenant, forgiveness in the life of an individual was appropriated when a repentant person brought, of his own free will, an offering to the Lord. Guilty offenders were required to give in accordance with their ability; God only accepted ones best and nothing less.

     The person presenting his offering, an unblemished sheep, lamb or bull, was required to lay one of his hands on the head of the animal and with the other hand he took a razor sharp knife and sliced its throat. The hand on the head of the animal symbolized an exchange that occurred between the sacrifice and the one presenting it. The offering, although undeserving of death, became a substitute in behalf of the individual who was guilty of transgressing the law of God. The sacrificial animal assumed the judgment due to the one presenting the offering. Hands on the head spoke of a transfer of guilt to the innocent party who deserved to live; and a transfer of innocence to the guilty party who deserved to die. Life was exchanged for death and death exchanged for life. He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him (Leviticus 1:4)

     The offering ritual also depicted an exchange of natures. Animals have no knowledge of wrongdoing so in the act of giving an oblation, one symbolically exchanged natures with the offering. Our sin nature, a nature knowing both good and evil, was traded for the sinless purity of an innocent offering. A soul exchanged for a soul, like when Christ exchanged His soul for ours, becoming our substitutionary offering on the cross. God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ (Paul). Through the death of Jesus Christ we have received a new nature, been forgiven of our wrongdoing and our condemnation for transgression has been transferred to Christ who died for us. We are free to live and walk in fellowship with God through the sacrificial offering Christ freely gave for us. God will spare the wrongdoer because He did not spare His Son. God can pass by your transgressions because He laid them upon His one and only Son nearly two thousand years ago (Charles Spurgeon).

Why Needs Exist

October 1

 

If we are ever free from the sense of need, it is not because the Holy Spirit has satisfied us, but because we have been satisfied with as much as we have …. (Oswald Chambers)

     A Roman centurion, stationed at Capernaum, sent a delegation of Jewish leaders to Jesus, begging Him to heal his servant who was very sick (Matthew 8:6; Luke 7:2). Jesus did not hesitate in giving an answer, "I will come and heal him.”

     Jesus personified God’s will and feelings about our needl; needs exist for the purpose of being met. Then why didn’t Jesus heal everyone? Although the Lord did not heal everyone in Israel; He did heal everyone who came to Him for healing. Matthew 12:15 says, “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.” When you are facing a seemingly impossible situation, you can come to God and bring your request to Him. A sense of need is not a bad thing; it helps us focus our attention on Jesus Christ and seek Him for the answer He desires to give us.

     The Lord’s disciples asked Him about a blind man (John 9:2), “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his sins or those of his parents?” Jesus answered, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sin. He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him.” In those days people believed that misfortune was always the result of wrongdoing. Jesus taught that tragedy is a fact of the fall and substance which God for uses to make miracles for those who seek Him.

     The Book of Job addresses this issue. Job suffered terrible affliction, losing his family, his possessions and his health. His friends argued and tried to convince him that secret sin was responsible for his pain. Job maintained his innocence and was eventually vindicated. We learn in this instance that it was his righteousness—not wrongdoing which brought suffering into his life. And we must also remember that Job’s right standing with God, before and after his trial, resulted in a miracle—God restored all that had been taken from him. Christ is God’s answer for human need. Jesus said in John 14:13-14, “You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it.” The miracle you need already exists as a reality in the mind of God. George Washington Carver comments on need, “My purpose alone must be God's purpose—to increase the welfare and happiness of His people. Nature will not permit a vacuum. It will be filled with something. Human need is really a great spiritual vacuum which God seeks to fill.”